Going There by Katie Couric – #Audiobook Review – Biographies of Journalists

Audiobook-Going There by Katie Couric

#1 New Release – Audiobook: Journalist Biographies

(Amazon) Editors Pick – Best Biographies & Memoirs

Book Blurb:

Heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest, Going There is the deeply personal life story of a girl next door turned household name.

For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life – a story she’s never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, “Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.”

Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn’t afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism . . . challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the TODAY show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat:  Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War . . . In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.  She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest “get”—often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.

Couric’s position as one of the leading lights of her profession was  shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma—and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.

Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News—a world rife with sexism and misogyny.  Her “welcome” was even more hostile at 60 Minutes, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women.  In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer—a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.

Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right.  Something she has never discussed publicly—why her second marriage almost didn’t happen.

If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. Going There is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.

My Review:

Are you a big fan of Katie Couric? I must admit I’d probably not watched her more than twice. Pretty, perky Katie pretty much delivers the entire book in her blurb—true to form–and there’s not much more I can say. You can see why the print book weighs in at a hefty 529 pages. (Sometimes, when I feel that the bio is WAYYY too long to include, I provide an excerpt. In this case, the blurb being WAYYY too long is a heads up into the kind of narration you’ll receive in the audiobook.) Narcissistic. Over the top, you say? Boy howdy!

Katie, the baby of the upper middle-class family, loved the spotlight from the beginning and often found ways to achieve it. Girl next door she’s not, unless you come from a family with accomplished, educated, parents of means, (a devoted father).

Going There by Katie CouricWhat you see is her perception: “ It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.” Nah, I don’t think so. I don’t believe the reader gets the unvarnished truth (maybe we can’t handle it). But’s it’s the truth as she wants you to believe. Her second best vocation—journalist. I do believe she comes off first as an entertainer, wantonly seeking veneration.

There is a public and private persona…which often blends into the same—a journalist decrying the coming “me, too” while quietly discussing and dismissing her own behaviors. Moaning over the loyalty factor while showing none to co-workers. I was rather surprised (and appalled) over the handling of the nanny—good grief—how many times did the nanny more than adequately cover her entitled butt? The brutal cancer that took her Jeff, crying she should have noticed, while running off constantly and consistently being absent during crises for the next big story or opportunity. Career first. So many contradictions! And then launching into charity work for the cancer causes. Must keep the face in the press!

Downright mean to many of her female co-workers and competitors, climbing the ladder on the backs of those who were paving her way.

Name dropping ad nauseum. Of course, she had a long, storied career and there were few celebrities she didn’t meet, try to interview, or gain notoriety from. So many unflattering stories about others, then how often she’d turn around and do the same—but that was different—she could explain it away to her satisfaction.

If I was prepared to change my mind after listening to her audiobook (she narrates, of course), I didn’t. It comes off exactly as my first impression of her–and that didn’t change.

Somewhere in the audiobook she coins the phrase, Truth decay.” Yup. I agree.

Book Details:

Genre: Biographies of Journalists, Journalist Biographies, Biographies & Memoirs of Women
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ASIN: B094RGFVWX  
Listening Length: 15 hrs 27 mins
Narrator: Katie Couric
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Print Length: 529 pages
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Going There [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Two point Five Stars Two and one-half Stars

Katie Couric - authorThe Author: Katherine Anne “Katie” Couric is notable as an American journalist who became well-known as co-host of NBC’s Today. In 2006, she made a highly publicized move from NBC to CBS, and on September 5, 2006 she became the first solo female anchor of the weekday evening news on one of the three traditional U.S. broadcast networks. She currently serves as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, having replaced Bob Schieffer on September 5, 2006. Schieffer served as the interim anchor following the departure of long time anchor and managing editor Dan Rather on March 9, 2005. [Goodreads]

[NB: Couric left the CBS Evening News in 2011 after five years.]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Biographies & Memoirs 

Book Blurb:

2018 GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

PEOPLE magazine Best Book of Fall 2016

New York Times Best-seller 

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, featuring Carrie Fisher, is scheduled for release on December 15, 2017. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds debuted on HBO in January 2017.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. 

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience. 

My Review:

If ever a book is best read by the author, this one is it. I must admit that I wasn’t an overly enthusiastic fan of Ms. Fisher, feeling she rode her parents’ coat tails (Debbie Reynolds and [gasp] Eddie Fisher) to stardom.

Carrie, born October 21, 1956, discovered an old diary she’d kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie. She was struck by co-star Harrison Ford. Carrie at the time being nineteen years of age admitted all those years later that she was still gaga over him. But this is not a tell-all about her very brief (three months) affair with the fastly rising-to-stardom co-star.

If that’s what you are here to read, or listen to, then you’ll be disappointed. What Fisher relates in her own witty, sarcastic, and often humorous recollections of those years regarding pre and post 1977 Star Wars is the immense impact it would have on the rest of her life. Not just a successful starring part, but the beginning of a sci-fi phenomenon of globe capacity with unforgettable characters whose names are still familiar. Forget Luke, we were all over Han Solo.

The ugly and the beautiful.

Carrie can wax poetic and, indeed, a sizeable portion of this book is her daughter’s (Billie Lourd) reading of the poems she penned in the diary, along with all her observations.

“After all is said and done, I was playing for keeps and he was playing for fun.”

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”

 

Carrie was bi-polar, angst ridden, and prone to abuse both drugs and alcohol. The audiobook gives the listener the impression of having a private conversation with her, extremely animated, totally open and honest, a one-on-one veritable hoot for most of the narrative. No matter the memory she related, the audiobook voice is audacious and often self-deprecating. And of course, she does discuss that iconic hairdo. (Link to sound clip on image below.)

Excerpt of The Princess Diarist read by Carrie Fisher
April 14, 1977 – Princess Leia Organa (CARRIE FISHER) – (Credit Image: © Imago via ZUMA Press)

This wasn’t her first book, however. She wrote voraciously and produced a number of other books, including two additional memoirs. Actually, her death at age 60 in December 2016 reflected the loss of a serious talent. No one can forget either the death of her mother the following day.

A thoroughly enjoyable audiobook that you must listen to for the full flavor in which it was written. Enthusiastically recommended. Then why not five stars, you wonder? (Glad you asked) The poems read by Lourd may have, in my opinion, extended for just a tad too long (for me at least, anxious to get back to Carrie’s chronicle).

Book Details:

Genre: Bipolar Disorder, Humor Essays, Biographies of Celebrities & Entertainment Professionals
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ASIN: B01AAXYD54
Listening Length: 5 hrs 10 mins
Narrator: Carrie FisherBillie Lourd
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Princess Diarist [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Carrie Fisher - author, actress, playwrightThe Author: Carrie Fisher was an American actress, screenwriter and author, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. Fisher was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. She had one daughter, Billie Lourd (b. 1992). [Goodreads]

Her final film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, was released on December 15, 2017 and is dedicated to her.

The Narrator: Billie Lourd was born July 17, 1992, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of actress Carrie Fisher and talent agent Bryan Lourd. Lourd is also the only grandchild of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. [Wikipedia]

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Sound clip attribute: Sound Cloud-Penguin Audio

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship by Charles Casillo – #BookReview – #Biographies of the Rich & Famous

“Monty, Elizabeth likes me, but she loves you.”
—Richard Burton
 

Book Blurb:

Elizabeth and Monty by Charles CosilloWhen Elizabeth Taylor was cast opposite Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun, he was already a movie idol, with a natural sensitivity that set him apart. At seventeen, Elizabeth was known for her ravishing beauty rather than her talent. Directors treated her like a glamorous prop. But Monty took her seriously, inspiring and encouraging her. In her words, “That’s when I began to act.”

To Monty, she was “Bessie Mae,” a name he coined for her earthy, private side. The press clamored for a wedding, convinced this was more than friendship. The truth was even more complex. Monty was drawn to women but sexually attracted to men—a fact that, if made public, would destroy his career. But he found acceptance and kinship with Elizabeth. Her devotion was never clearer than after his devastating car crash near her Hollywood home, when she crawled into the wreckage and saved him from choking.

Monty’s accident shattered his face and left him in constant pain. As he sank into alcoholism and addiction, Elizabeth used her power to keep him working. In turn, through scandals and multiple marriages, he was her constant. Their relationship endured until his death in 1966, right before he was to star with her in Reflections in a Golden Eye. His influence continued in her outspoken support for the gay community, especially during the AIDS crisis.

Far more than the story of two icons, this is a unique and extraordinary love story that shines new light on both stars, revealing their triumphs, demons—and the loyalty that united them to the end.

My Review:

Classic Hollywood—the era of the huge stars—beautiful and tragic. Guess that would describe both of these Hollywood legends.

Holy smokes! I certainly remember Liz Taylor and all her men but only a scant recollection of Montgomery Clift; saw few of his movies. (We never had money for movies back then.) Still, I might have lived the rest of my life not knowing the madness of Clift. Taylor was pretty much a headline ALL the time.

“Sexually, she was every man’s dream. She had the face of an angel and the morals of a truck driver.” – Eddie Fisher

I have to give it to author Casillo for all the research that went into this biography. Monty Clift was a successful Broadway actor when sixteen year old Elizabeth met him. Two polar opposites drawn to each other initially by their common experience of having been thrust into the spotlights by stage mothers.

“Before forty you have the face you were born with; after forty you get the face you deserve.” – Elizabeth Taylor

“If someone’s dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I’m certainly not dumb enough to turn it down.” – Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth and Monty by Charles  CasilloThe chapters trade off alternately Taylor’s experiences and then Clift’s experiences. There was a LOT of name dropping, most names easily recognizable, as well as some fascinating behind the scenes tidbits about films, particularly those in which both starred.

There is a great deal of description which is then repeated, portions spun, rinsed and repeated. With so many names involved in the narrative perhaps dropping a name more than once was appropriate. However, I got the point the first time.

We knew about Elizabeth’s penchant for men, for excitement, the thrill of the conquests and affairs (eight marriages), her tragedies, the drinking, the pills. We knew that Monty Clift was gay when it was dangerous to be so. We didn’t know of his destructive nature, the booze, the drugs, the pills and his propensity to go off the deep end into unnaturally offensive behavior, swiping dishes off the table in well-known expensive restaurants and then eating off the floor. Spinning into alcoholic, drug induced days, it became impossible to insure him for films, but he was already exhibiting self-destructive behavior before that horrific accident that changed forever that beautiful face. Currently on pre-order.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary uncorrected review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: LGBTQ, Biographies of the Rich & Famous
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B08GYBH611

Print Length: 352 pages
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Charles Casillo - authorThe Author: Charles Casillo is the author of the novels “The Fame Game,” and “The Marilyn Diaries,” the biography, “Outlaw: The Lives and Careers of John Rechy” (the authorized life history of the legendary writer and hustler), and a collection of stories “Boys, Lost & Found.” His latest book is a serious and comprehensive biography of Monroe: “Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon.” The author says, “It will introduce you to the Marilyn Monroe you always wanted to know.”

Casillo’s profiles, short stories, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Washington Post, Vice, Interview, and many others. He has appeared in Monroe documentaries “Behind the Headlines: Marilyn and Her Men,” on Lifetime, and “Whatever Happened to Norma Jeane,”

His movies include “Let Me Die Quietly,” a neo-noir thriller and the dark comedy “Fetish”(with Joan Collins.)

Casillo was born in New York City. He has spent many years exploring and documenting his interests and obsessions, such as exceptionally talented people, strange encounters in various bars, Marilyn Monroe, eccentrics, sex, tragic figures, and antidotes to insomnia, insecurity, and loneliness. He has written about these and other subjects in his works. He divides his time between New York, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and other places where he hangs his hat.

©2021 V Williams

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